The $135 billion state budget agreement includes $27.7 million for the Office of Information Technology Services to create an electronic gun permit database, one of the requirements of the New York Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement (NY SAFE) Act that was adopted in January, according to Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, D-Manhattan.
The Senate plans to vote on budget legislation into the evening, while the Assembly is scheduled to vote Thursday. Legislative leaders reached a budget agreement last week with Gov. Andrew Cuomo. The state’s new fiscal year starts Monday.
The NY SAFE Act was New York’s response to the school massacre in Newtown, Conn. last December. The centralized gun permit database will enable the State Police to cross-check it with the National Instant Criminal Background and Check System to see if any licensees have been legally disqualified from possessing firearms under federal law, Silver said. That would include license holders with criminal convictions, involuntary commitments and those subject to orders of protection.
“Recent events, particularly the tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut, are stark reminders of the need to reduce gun violence in our communities,” Silver said in a statement. “It is our duty to ensure the safety, not only of students, but all New Yorkers. This database will be a powerful tool that will aid in the enforcement of New York’s gun control measures and keep more of our citizens out of harm’s way.”
In the wake of the shootings, The Journal News published an interactive map of gun owners in Westchester and Rockland counties. Putnam County did not release its list of permit holders in response to a Freedom of Information Law request. The map sparked a lot of anger against the newspaper and a call for gun owner privacy. The NY SAFE Act exempts the state database from the Freedom of Information Law. Gun permit holders can request to have their names and addresses remain confidential at the county level, meaning they would not be subject to FOIL requirements.